NATIONAL

Kamat sworn in Goa Chief Minister

NEW BEGINNING: Digambar Kamat takes charge after taking oath as Chief Minister of Goa as his predecessor Pratapsinh Rane looks on at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji on Friday.

NEW BEGINNING: Digambar Kamat takes charge after taking oath as Chief Minister of Goa as his predecessor Pratapsinh Rane looks on at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: PTI

Special Correspondent

Pledges to protect Goan interest; Cabinet may be expanded next week

Ravi Naik, three others also sworn inCoalition government enjoys support of 23 MLAs

PANAJI: Digambar V. Kamat, 54, was sworn in the 19th Chief Minister of Goa on Friday.

He was proposed as a consensus candidate for the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leadership on Thursday by Pradesh Congress Committee president Ravi Naik and outgoing Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane after the former failed to muster support from some crucial allies.

Mr. Kamat, who joined the Congress after playing a key role in toppling the Bharatiya Janata Party Government in early 2005, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor S.C. Jamir at the Raj Bhavan.

Also inducted

Mr. Naik, Nationalist Congress Party leader Jose Philip D'Souza and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar were also sworn in with Mr. Kamat. The four-member Cabinet is expected to be expanded next week.

Mr. Rane, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, senior Congress leader R.K. Dhawan, AICC general secretary in-charge of Goa affairs Margaret Alva, AICC secretary Siddarth Patel, MLAs of the Congress and the supporting parties, independent MLAs and former Ministers were among those present at the function. However, all BJP MLAs were conspicuously absent.

The coalition Government comprises 16 MLAs of the Congress, three of the NCP, two of the MGP and independents Vishwajit Rane and Anil Salgaoncar. The Assembly has a strength of 40.

Mr. Kamat's choice as CLP leader was dictated by the refusal of the two-member MGP and Mr. Vishwajit Rane to support Mr. Naik. Consequently, the deliberations conducted by the party's Central observers to assess the support base of Mr. Naik and Mr. Pratapsinh Rane continued till late in the night.

Mr. Naik's last-ditch attempt to substitute the "dictating allies" with rebel Congress leader Churchill Alemao's two-member Save Goa Front was vehemently opposed by senior Congress leaders and also some MLAs supporting Mr. Rane.

Mr. Kamat later pledged to "protect the interests of the Goans" and went on to promise a "common man-friendly and accountable governance."

The Chief Minister's remark was aimed at addressing the local people's concerns over the threat to their identity and existence in view of the massive real estate development in the State, an issue that dominated the bitter election campaign in the recent State Assembly election.

At his first press conference at the Raj Bhavan after being sworn in, Mr. Kamat sought to dispel doubts in the minds of the people about the after-effects of the controversial State Regional Plan 2011 which was scrapped, and stated that all the land conversions made or proposed under the said plan stand "null and void" since the plan itself stands scrapped.

As for the new plan, Mr. Kamat said his Government will adhere to the promise made by the Congress in its manifesto to de-politicise the process and make it totally transparent and participative.

Lists priorities

Listing his priorities, the Chief Minister said the problems of law and order will be taken care of. He promised to tone up the administration to see that officers are made accountable to the people, especially to ensure that the common people's grievances are redressed on priority.

On the controversial issue of the Mopa airport project, he said that it was under the consideration of a special committee set up by the Centre to study it.

Regarding the Cabinet expansion, he said the same would be done probably in a week's time after due consultations with party president Sonia Gandhi. As regards the demand for the Deputy Chief Minister's post by the NCP, he said the same would be sorted out by the top leaders of both Congress and the NCP.

Seeks media support

Mr. Kamat said that he had decided to gear up the administrative machinery to tackle monsoon flooding.

Promising to "remain media-friendly", he urged the media "to help him in developing the State" while acknowledging their right to "constructive criticism of his Government."

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